Master PC – Mind Magi
To say the least, I was stunned... again.
Sitting back on the bed, I considered what everyone had told me. While Sally and I were in the bedroom, my mark had exploded like a flash grenade not only from me, but from everyone bound to me. That included all the girls bound to me, all my House Members as well as Cicely and all of her House Members.
What was worse, at least for the Law of Secrecy, Mind Magi weren’t the only ones to see it. Everyone who was within viewing distance of anyone with my color witnessed what had happened.
No one had been hurt, but there were suddenly a lot more people asking questions that shouldn’t be answered and this time it wasn’t just about me. That made it so much worse to me.
For her part, Cicely was sitting beside herself with worry about what would happen. She had been with one of her House Members in a car when it happened to them. Several other drivers around them looked at them. One was an off duty police officer. He had even gotten out of his car to check on them.
Other calls came in. My House Members were being bombarded with questions, curiosities, and concern. Whatever they had been doing was dropped and they headed for home.
As I sat there, contemplating all those involved and how it would affect them, I had flashes of memories from what had flooded me earlier.
I could see the slaves of Egypt working on the great pyramids as if I stood on a catwalk and looked on with anticipation of what they created.
Men mounted on horses, wearing armor and brandishing swords charged into an army of would be defenders of a country I didn’t know.
A steam engine train pulled away from a gathering of people who had just witnessed the joining of two railroads in the middle of a heated prairie.
These events were vivid, as if I had actually been there. The memory I had received previously reminded me of the old man who passed his memories to me through my mother before I was born. I wondered if the flashes I was seeing were from him.
All of that occurred as I sat discussion the flash of my mark with my girls.
“I still don’t understand,” said Sally. “You’ve had sex many times with all the others. Why did it happen when you were with me?”
I shook my head. “I can only imagine that it has something to do with what Michael had suggested.”
Renée looked up at that. “He said Sally might be your soul mate, not that she was.”
Shrugging I asked, “Then what do you think?”
“I think your abilities are still evolving. Having bound an entire House to yourself, this may have been a flashback of some sort.”
That may have been possible, but I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t mentioned the torrent of memories or how they were currently flashing through my mind. At that moment another scene erupted, that of Roman soldiers marching along a street and throngs of people parting to let them through.
Instantly I was back in the hotel room.
“Ral, Michael told you about how House Leaders will step down and a new one will take over,” offered Erin. “Did he mention anything like this when that happened?”
“No,” I answered. “And I don’t think I’ve taken Cicely’s House from her. She can still access her House Members’ abilities.”
“Then that leaves us with only your bond with Sally,” Charlotte concluded.
I kept my head down, looking at the floor or anything to keep from looking at the others. Every time I did look up, whoever I looked at stared back at me. My eyes were still amber. I had hoped that it would wear off but there had been no change.
“Ral,” Charlotte said. “Look at me, please.”
I looked. She looked back at me. Her face reminded me of another woman. She too had dark hair and eyes, but she wore paint that made her appear more exotic. Their expressions were the same, a touch of curiosity with a heavy dose of concern. I closed my eyes.
“Is there a possibility someone did this using Master PC?” Chloe asked. It was the first thing she had offered since we all sat to discuss it.
I looked at her. Everyone else did to.
“That’s an idea,” Charlotte said with a touch of excitement. She got up and went to the briefcase she had brought with her that contained her laptop.
Sally and I had gotten dressed. The others had already done so while she and I were busy. Most of us were on edge, half expecting Dragons to show up, and half nervous about what had happened to my mark and eyes.
Charlotte pulled up my profile. After a quick scan over the code she announced that no recent changes had been made.
That was somewhat disappointing. Part of me hoped she would see something, at least added code, but I knew that just gaining additional memories didn’t reflect in the program.
“Okay,” I said standing up. “I know this is something we could sit and puzzle over for a couple more hours, but I’m sure the Dragons aren’t going to let us. We need to get moving.
“Are we sticking to your plan?” Charlotte asked. She shut down her laptop and packed it back into her briefcase.
I nodded. “This incident will be a major distraction for everyone involved. We need to use it.” I wasn’t only sure of it, distractions were a very well used tactic. Something in my newly acquired memories told me that.
Everyone else got up. Those still not fully ready to leave made preparations. Once everyone had everything ready, we left together.
When we got down to the parking garage Renée asked, “What about Sally?”
I looked at the young woman in question. Something told me she would be safe with me. Whether it was my instincts or the new collection of memories I wasn’t sure, but I wasn’t going to argue about it. “She’s staying with me.”
Renée nodded as if it hadn’t mattered one way or another. I could feel something in her that I would have to address when everything was over. It wasn’t jealousy per se, but something akin to it.
The four gave me hugs and kisses. Sally waited quietly behind me, but she wasn’t left out, and to her surprise they hugged her as well. Finally, they climbed into the van.
After we got into her car, Sally asked, “Where are we going?”
“For now, just drive. I want to give them time to get to hotels and get settled. Once I get calls from them saying they’re ready, I’m going after the hostages.”
Sally started the car and we left the hotel garage. The van with my other four turned south, Sally and I headed north.
More scenes flashed through my head. Some were quick and I couldn’t discern what was happening, others seemed to linger as if they were memories that had been thought about a lot. Again, all of them seemed to be events from human history. Nothing specific but just what someone had witnessed and remembered from various moments in their lives.
That thought disturbed me. One person had lived multiple lives? That wasn’t possible. I’m sure Michael would have known if there were a Mind Magi who lived so long. Especially with the eras and events these memories presented.
A short time later, Cicely called again. “Ral, I have a conference call with the other House Leaders set up.”
“They’re on now.”
“Perfect, patch me in.”
There was a conversation already in progress. Someone was saying, “...has gone too far. We cannot allow him to continue to expose us to the rest of the world like this.”
Several others murmured their agreement and no one attempted to say anything against that idea or defend me. It seemed I was already at a loss in trying to gain their assistance.
“Fellow Council Members, this is Lord Setton of House Nautikuus,” I began. “The last day and a half have been trying for all of us. I would say the concern each of you felt for the family members who are being held hostage has only been replaced by the nonsense you now discuss in my absence.”
“Lord Setton,” said a low voice.
My new memories told me it was Lord Morehouse. Whoever the old man was, he knew the council at the time.
“While we do not disagree that what is happening is deplorable and must be stopped, your methods only seem to draw more and more unwanted attention as you actively pursue and fight with the Dragons,” Morehouse said.
Several others started talking after that. Some even sounded angry that I had endangered their families.
“Do any of you realize that one of my girls is also being held hostage?” I asked, making my voice clear yet refrained from yelling to be heard.
The others stopped talking.
“That’s what I thought. It seems the idea that I wasn’t putting anyone I loved in danger was something several of you held onto. Has Lady Reynolds not told you of the events since our meeting yesterday?”
Again, several tried to answer. Finally another woman said, “No, Lady Reynolds has only just joined this conference.”
“Considering we are not in a room together, where we can see who is about to speak, we should keep this as too the point and ordered as possible. If you have a question, speak your name,” Lord Morehouse ordered.
“Lord Greenwood,” was the first name I heard. The others listened as he asked, “Lord Setton, what do you have to say about your actions earlier this morning at your store?”
“I was simply fighting off an attack that could have turned out worse than it was,” I replied.
“And you didn’t even consider the news cameras all around the area?”
“At that moment, no. I was more concerned with stopping the attack.”
“And what have you done to stop the flow of information after the fact?”
“Nothing, there hasn’t been time because I have been continuously pursued and attacked by Dragons.”
There were comments about that.
“Lord Setton, this is Lady Arneson. You had reported to my brother, a detective in the New York Police Department, that two Dragons had attacked you in your room at the ‘W’, but he found no evidence to support that claim. What about that?”
“If any of you would take a moment to consider who we are facing—and I do mean ‘we’ because if any of you were to attempt to do anything to rescue the hostages, the Dragons would be chasing you as well—then you will understand that the incident at the hotel, the attack at my store and everything else has been nothing more than an effort by the Dragons to force me to expose myself to the public, thus having you do what they cannot: stop me.”
“To answer your question Lady Arneson, I have witnesses to the event. I didn’t point them out to Detective Arneson only because he took my word about what happened, or did I make a mistake in understanding his willingness to help me?”
To a degree, I felt insulted that I would have to defend my actions, however I knew there had been many times throughout history when the actions of a man or woman, willing to do what was necessary at the time, were condemned by those who ruled over them. I would not let the Council stop me any more than the Dragons.
“I will tell you this,” I said over several trying to reply to my accusation. “If you attempt to stop me, I will consider you in league with those leading this rebellion.”
“A rebellion?” someone asked with a seriously mocking tone. “This is Lord Flemming, and I don’t know what you’ve been drinking or smoking, but no one is ceasing control of the Mind Magi.”
“And what makes you so sure about that?” I asked quickly.
“If they wanted control of the Mind Magi, then they would have stripped us of our Leadership. All of us still have our mantles.”
“And you’re simply going to trust that whoever has taken your family member is just going to give them back and go away? Just like that?”
No one answered. For a moment I wondered if I had been disconnected.
“Is anyone still there?” I asked.
“We’re still here,” came back a voice. “Tell me, Lord Setton, do you have a plan to free the hostages?”
The voice was calm but had an underlying hint of fear. “Who is this?”
“Lord Hendon,” said the voice.
“Yes, Lord Hendon, I do have a plan.”
The line was still quiet. They were waiting for me to elaborate. The problem I had was my suspicion that one or more of them was involved in everything going on. So far, I still had no proof except for Whisper using Lord Greenwood’s daughter and letting me bind her to me.
At that moment, I wondered if Whisper had known she would be taken hostage as well, held as a captive to keep me in check.
“I have support for what I’m going to do. Going in alone will be rough, but all of you are more than welcome to join us.”
“What is this plan?” another voice asked. It had a French accent.
“Lord Lasarge, I’ve met your daughter before, as you know. I’m going to use Michael’s ability to track her. Once I know where she is, I’ll get the blueprints of the building they’re in and use it to gain entrance. Once inside, I’ll take the Dragons down one at a time.”
“We have been hearing of your fights with the Dragons through our House Members. I’ve even heard you put one in the hospital.”
I hesitated and then said, “Yes, I did. After he plunged a knife through my arm.”
Several made sharp intakes of breath. Otherwise it was silent.
“I also have another Dragon captive. Her abilities have been blocked temporarily.”
“Which Dragon?” asked a man.
“Who wants to know?” I asked.
No one replied.
Finally someone said, “Lord Setton, please understand. The Dragons are our law enforcers. If you put them all in the hospital or...”
I interrupted, “Your police have been corrupted.” Then a thought about Chloe’s suggestion about someone using Master PC occurred. “Or they’ve been manipulated.”
“This is Lady Arneson. Are you suggesting that the Dragons may not be acting of their own accord?”
“It is possible.”
“No Mind Magi could control all of the Dragons,” said another male voice. It was very scornful.
My mind reeled with ideas on how to prove my theory, but I would seriously implicate myself if I used my own abilities. However, using Master PC, I could prove anyone could do what I suggested.
“I have proof that it is not only possible, but anyone, even a normal human, could pull it off.”
There were a couple of male voices that broke out in laughs. “And just how would any normal pull this off?”
“With Master PC,” I said simply.
There was more laughing.
“Lord Setton, everyone on this Council has known about that program. It is a joke, just someone’s idea of wishful programming.” The voice was female.
“You say you’ve known about it? Have any of you actually downloaded a copy and used it?” I asked.
To my surprise, most of them said no.
“None of you?” I asked again.
“I have,” said Lord Lasarge.
Everyone was quiet. I knew what this could lead to but I wanted to steer us away from implications of his involvement in what his daughter tried to do. “Lord Lasarge, you can confirm that this program can control others?”
“Oi, it can.”
“You have got to be kidding me,” said one of the Lords.
“How is this possible?” asked another.
“How long have you known about this Lord Setton?” another asked.
“I’ve only known about the program since my own abilities manifested. One of my schiavi had thought my abilities came from it before we found out about the Mind Magi.”
“And how many others would you say know about this program?” asked another in a very careful tone.
“I don’t know. I do know that those who use it keep it secret. To have that kind of power taken away would be devastating. To know what might happen if it fell into the wrong hands...”
“Well,” said Lord Morehouse in his measured tones, “it would seem that is exactly what we have. Lord Setton, how soon can you get copies of this program to the rest of the House Leaders?”
“In the next couple of hours,” I said simply.
“Then if what you suggest is true, freeing our families may not be enough. How were you going to take down the Dragons?”
“Well, if my theory is correct, we can free the Dragons of this control before attacking.”
“This is computer software we’re talking about?” someone asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“How the hell does a program have powers like ours?”
The answer came to me. It was there all along. “My parents,” I said simply.
“My birth parents were involved in some kind of project before I was born.”
“What kind of project?”
“I don’t know, but I can find out.”
“Wait, are you saying your parents helped to make this program and then went and had you?”
I didn’t say anything but I could tell the others were catching onto the implication.
“That prophecy. It said a child would born to parents of opposing views... and your parents were from opposing houses, weren’t they?”
“It also said that Magi would bow and the child would be the first sign of our world’s end,” another quoted.
Quickly others joined in until someone said, “It seems like your parents set you up to take over Lord Setton,” in the most contemptuous manner I’d ever heard.
For the first time, I was glad not to be in the same room as the rest of them.
Lord Morehouse, however, remained the voice of reason. “There is no way to prove that Lord Setton is the child described in the prophecy.”
“There is also the fact that the ability of prophecy died with the Mind Magi who made that prediction,” said Lady Arneson.
I certainly wasn’t going to mention the visions I had been having about my girls. One, it was personal and two, it had nothing to do with the situation.
“You have to admit, it all fits together a bit too nicely,” said the sardonic voice.
“That still doesn’t prove Lord Setton had anything to do with the creation of the program or those who may be using it,” Cicely said calmly.
To a degree, I was surprised that she was defending me. She could have easily added to the fire by telling them about how I had bound her and her whole House to me. It would seem to fit the part about ‘no one can resist’.
“We must remain focused on the situation. If this program is being used to control the Dragons, we must do what we can to reverse that so they will be free to deal with the perpetrators who have put our families at risk.”
“Do we even know who is behind this?” someone asked.
No one answered.
“Lord Setton, is there a way to find out who may have used the program to control the Dragons, if that is the case?”
“I’ll have to look into that. I don’t know at this moment.”
“Do we know how the program works? Is it self contained or does every copy interact with all others?”
I gave them a run down of what I knew, including the range limit, the fact that anyone within that range could be accessed from any copy and the basic security the program contained.
“If the Dragons are being controlled with this program, it is possible that the person using it has added passwords to them to keep others from reversing this,” I added.
“The program should be like any other software. Would it be possible to hack the program and bypass the passwords?” Lady Arneson asked.
“I do know one person who used to have that knowledge,” I answered.
“Who? And what do you mean?” she asked.
I was quiet, not sure how much to give out. I decided to use Victoria’s alias. “Vikkor was her name. She was bent on wiping out the male half of our race and changing all women to hermaphrodites using viruses she created using that program.”
There was a lot of silence. Everyone was waiting for me to finish.
“After I caught her, I used my abilities to remove all her knowledge of the program,” I finished. In all the months since I had done that, I had never regretted it. Now, I was feeling a loss that I couldn’t explain.
“Is it possible to get to her and retrieve the memories, even to see them for a moment?” Lady Reynolds asked.
She, like the others, didn’t know who Vikkor really was. The only one who did was Lord Lasarge, and that was only because I had shared my memories with him regarding those events.
“There’s the catch,” I finally said. “Vikkor is one of the hostages.”
“Stupid boy!” said the mocking voice.
Several others started in and it seemed that some of the House Leaders were with me regarding freeing the Dragons from the program.
“I’m still not sure if the Dragons are under its influence,” I said over the many voices.
This calmed many down, but the sarcastic voice asked, “You’re not sure... Is there anything you are sure about?”
“Considering the nature of what we’re discussion, wouldn’t you feel it would be prudent to confirm any new information before acting? Or would you prefer to sit back and just wait it out?” I asked in return.
“My son is in there!” the voice came back. I had certainly touched a cord. “And if you think I’m going to follow some kid into that mess to risk his life, you are so sadly mistaken.” After a few seconds of silence he added, “All of you are mistaken if you follow him!”
I still didn’t know which leader it was, but there were a few who it could have been. “If you have a better plan, I would love to hear it because I’m tired of being the only one out here doing anything to solve this,” I retorted.
To that, not even that Lord had a reply.
The discussion was over as far as I was concerned.
“I’m done with this. I’m still going to look into whether the Dragons are being influenced by Master PC and how to free them if necessary. If, however, I cannot free them or they are under a different influence, then we need a rock solid plan for getting the hostages out.”
There were several murmurs of agreement and I hung up.
“Sounds like it didn’t go so well,” Sally quipped.
“No,” I answered laying my head back. “All they’re concerned with is what I’ve been doing and the fact that I’m no older than most of the kids being held hostage.”
“You can’t blame them for believing what they’ve been told by the Dragons.”
“I can if there is a way to save the families,” I said as I looked at my phone and started pulling up Renée’s number. However it rang.
“Ral, it’s Charlotte. Chloe and I are ready,” she said.
“Good. Listen, I need you to try to pull up one of the Dragons.”
“Roy Jordan,” I offered.
I could hear typing and then Charlotte said, “He’s password protected.”
“Try Russ Fairbanks.”
“So is he,” she offered after a few seconds.
On and on we went with the names I had collected. All of them were password protected.
“Okay, now for the hard part, Victoria Lasarge.”
“Who?” Charlotte asked.
“You heard me. Pull her up.”
“Okay, I’ve got her.”
“Can you tell if she’s hurt?”
“Doesn’t look like it, but Ral, there’s some of that strange code that you have in your profile.”
“I know, I put it there. Is there any code regarding security access?”
“Um...” she hummed as she read. “Nothing that I see.”
“Then I did remove it,” I said more to myself than her.
“What’s going on Ral?”
“We need to get a look at the code on the Dragons. I need to know if someone is using the program to control them.”
“And if we can get in, then what?”
“We simply release the Dragons from that control. They’re the Mind Magi police and it is possible some of the Dragons I’ve not run into yet know who is behind this.”
“Ral, I’m sorry to say this, but they don’t have to know who’s calling the shots. If someone is using the program to control them, they can remain completely anonymous.”
“Yay,” I offered in a dreary tone. “More good news.”
“Do you know how to find out what other users may have made entries to someone?”
“No. The program keeps all that information completely separate from the subjects.”
“Okay, we’ll deal with that when we get to it. For now, I want you to work on trying to find a way to access those profiles.”
“The only person who knew how to do that was...”
“I know, that’s why I had you pull up Victoria. I was hoping the code was still there, but I apparently erased it from her.”
“Then why can’t you just do that with the Dragons?”
“What... just remove any Master PC code?”
“I can try, but if they’re not actually under the programs influence...”
“...Then it’s a whole other problem,” she finished.
“I’ll have to find a Dragon to test this on.”
“What about that woman who attacked us? She’s here with me and Chloe.”
“She’s a good start,” I thought out loud. “Where are you?”
Charlotte gave me the name of the hotel and her room number. Sally knew where it was and we made our way there.